Monday, August 14, 2006

Apologetics: Take it to the Streets

Having just finished the little pedagogical classic, The Seven Laws of Teaching, by John Milton Gregory, I realized that I had not left to my students a synoptic review and exhortation based on our five-week adventure in Christian apologetics (Defending Christian Faith at Denver Seminary). Since the class is over, I sent them a group email. Perhaps some of you might be edified by it. It is the charter for my life, however imperfectly I live it out.

For the sake of the King of Kings and his eternal Kingdom, take Christian truth so seriously that you consistently and over a lifetime apply your resources to understanding it, explaining it, declaring it, defending it, and applying it. Enter the world of ideas with a deep knowledge of the truth, from which flows a confident and courageous defense of Christianity before the watching world. Seize upon opportunities to make the Gospel known as much as your wisdom and maturity allows. Always depend on the Holy Spirit for the requisite character, knowledge, and rationality for this grand task.

In other words, "Take it to the streets," In Jesus’ name.


Michael Russell said...

While not at all disagreeing with your call for followers of Christianity to "apply your resources to understanding it, explaining it, declaring it, defending it, and applying it," I wonder if more emphasis shouldn't be made on the last verb.

Not that the preceding four verbs are unimportant, but application reveals the authenticity of them. That is, how well we understand our faith is revealed in how we live it out, and a visible demonstration generally explains more clearly than words alone. Similarly, the "tongue in our shoe" (application) usually communicates more than the "tongue in our mouth" (declaration), and a critical (but not sufficient) apologetic is how we apply our faith and live it out before others.

The amazing thing about the life of Jesus was not merely what He said but that His life was entirely consistent with His message. Looking at His life, His message is more clearly understood, explained, declared, and defended. In the same way, our own application reveals the truth and error in our understanding, explanation, declaration, and defense of our faith.

Or, so it seems to me.

Craig Fletcher said...

If Christianity is objectively true, then we as Christians must to be able to articulate and explain it reasonably and logically to the questioning unbeliever. You cannot rely solely on the "feelings in your heart" or your own testimony in witnessing for Christ. All followers of all religions have a testimony, but if their worldview contradicts the Christian worldview than either we're both wrong or one of us is right. If you claim Christianity is true, can you back it up?

I can personally attest that apologetics is a very effective tool in bringing the lost home to Jesus. Honest people have honest questions: Do you know the answers? Have you studied?

To the unbeliever: Have you ever heard an argument in favor of the reliability of the Bible, or of Christ's resurrection being a true and actual event in time/space?

The scriptures call us to rationalize and contend for our faith in Christ, and boldly so!

1 Peter 3:14-17: "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear[b]; do not be frightened."(15)But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (16)keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (17)It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

2 Timothy 4:2-5 "(2)Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (3)For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4)They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (5)But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

Phillipians 1:27-28 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel (28) without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.

Jude 1:3 "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Luke 10:27 "He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Matthew 22:37 "Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

1Cor 14:15 "So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind."

Titus 1:9 (speaking about a church elder) "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it."

Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

2 Cor 3:12 "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold."